It's been a rough go for Tiger Woods at the start of his first major championship round of the season. The 2006 British Open winner at Royal Liverpool began his week with back-to-back bogeys to promptly fall to 2-over, near the bottom of the leaderboard on a day where the scoring conditions are perfect.
Woods played his first two shots on the opening hole well enough, but caught a bad bounce into a greenside pot bunker. HIs recovery attempt for an up-and-down look, however, was poor and he blasted it through the green. (via Golf Digest)
From that spot behind the green, Woods was lucky just to get down in two for a bogey and avoid the double.
On the second, however, we quickly saw some more of the putting problems that plagued him before his injury and in that quick two-day stay at Congressional a couple weeks ago. Woods hammered his birdie attempt past the hole, then burned an edge on a comebacker for a three-putt bogey. With almost no competitive reps before this major test, Tiger was going to struggle but he didn't give himself much of a chance early with those two bogeys. At one point, only four players were below him on the leaderboard.
Fifty seven players are on the course at Hoylake. Only four are below Tiger on the leaderboard.— Eamon Lynch (@eamonlynch) July 17, 2014
The putter has been them most inconsistent part of his game early in the round. At the fourth hole, Woods was again just off the green but had a pretty reasonable 35-foot uphill putt that he should have left close for an easy up-and-down. Instead, Woods hit one of the worst putts you'll ever see, barely nudging it up onto the putting surface.
That's as ugly a stroke as you'll get from the 14-time major winner. But on the very next putt, he'd steadily roll one in to avoid any damage from that first stroke. One absolutely horrible putt followed by a very good saving putt provided a nice snapshot of what Woods is dealing with at Hoylake.
In his 2006 win, Tiger played the par-5s in 14-under, demolishing the Liverpool layout and the rest of the field. That's always been his most reliable path to victory, whether it's a major or not. So Woods has to post red numbers on the par-5s this week, even if he's not hitting it as far as he used to and swinging more conservatively with his surgically repaired back. So far, so good for Woods on the par-5s. He got his first shot back at the par-5 5th, making a routine birdie to move to 1-over and in a tie for 45th place.
Woods will need to get a few more red numbers up on a day where the sun is out and the wind is still. You can never predict how the weather will affect an Open Championship, and Tiger needs to take advantage of it right now during the morning draw on Thursday. Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka, and Robert Karlsson are the early movers during these benign conditions, getting to 3-under. Here's the morning leaderboard on Thursday at the Open:
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